The world’s No. 1 male player went to battle against a top-five female player in the world in the opening round Wednesday of the Philippine Open Pool Championship at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. When the smoke cleared, the player still standing was the male of the species. For one match at least, supremacy remained with the men.
By the luck of the draw, Jasmin Ouschan of Austria drew Ralf Souquet of Germany as her first round opponent. The news quickly created a buzz at the media center and tournament venue as many remembered how Jasmin had soundly defeated another rated German at the World Ten Ball Championship in Manila last October – Thomas Engert.
But any hopes for a repeat were totally dashed by the unflappable and cool Souquet, nicknamed “the Kaiser” in pool circles. His experience and skills proved too much against his pretty rival, as he gave her little chance to shoot by running out racks flawlessly and giving her crushing safeties to shoot out of.
Souquet did not let up from start to finish. He raced to an early 8-0 lead and was poised to sweep the match until the Austrian lass found an opportunity in the ninth rack, which she grabbed as her first point – but alas, also her last.
Ouschan couldn’t get her game going as the more patient Souquet showed his killer’s instinct and wrapped up the match after the 10th rack.
“I went out there thinking that I am playing her as one of the big boys in the tournament,” said Souquet, who has won world titles in the 9-Ball and 8-Ball disciplines.
“But the toughness of the game won’t reflect on the final score. I was more patient and it showed in this game. There are days like this one, but Jasmin is obviously one of the best players in the world,” he added.
The biggest upset on opening day was recorded by a Filipino against a seeded American player. Former Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Victor Arpilleda outlasted former US Open champion Corey Deuel, 9-7, to join Souquet in the second round.
Another upset of sorts was the impressive victory of Filipino Leonardo Didal over Taiwanese No. 1 Fu Che-Wei, seeded fifth in the tournament. Didal beat his highly touted rival 9-4.
The other big guns in the tournament in the WPA World Ranking Tour event delivered on opening day.
Shane Van Boening of the United States, Kelly Fischer of Great Britain, Rudi Susanto of Indonesia, Thorsten Hohmann of Germany, Ko Pin Yi of Chinese Taipei, Noayuki Oi of Japan, Gabe Owen of the United States and Marlon Manalo of the Philippines pulled off victories.
Van Boening crushed Chan Keng Kwang of Singapore, 9-5; Fischer upstaged Timo Makela of Finland, 9-7; Susanto whipped Oliver Villafuerte of the Philippines, 9-5; Hohmann outplayed Allan Cuartero of the Philippines, 9-6; Ko dumped Kenichi Uchigaki of Japan, 9-6; Oi ripped Filipino 15-year-old Jonas Magpantay, 9-2; Owen nipped Toh Lian Han of Singapore, 9-8; and Manalo scuttled Melissa Little of the US, 9-2.
Others who also advanced were Kok Hoh Keong of Malaysia, Jeong Young Hwa of Korea, Lu Hui-Chan of Chinese Taipei, Satoshi Kawabata of Japan, Ricky Yang of Malaysia, Marcus Chamat of Sweden, Kuo Po Cheng of Chinese Taipei, and Fabio Petroni of Italy.
Other Filipinos who advanced into the next round were Mario Tolentino, Demosthenes Pulpul and Leonardo Didal.
Tolentino bucked a slow start to beat Ernesto Dominguez of Mexico, 9-6.
Pulpul, last year’s semifinalist in the World Ten Ball Championship, whipped compatriot Elvis Calasang, 9-3.But one of the Philippines’ biggest hopes, national junior champion and world junior runner-up Jericho Banares, was waylaid by Jonni Fulcher of Scotland, 2-9, in a featured match on the TV table. The 19-year-old Filipino must now make his way through the tournament from the losers’ bracket.